By February 12, 2007

I think I may have found my attack shuttle.

My mind naturally drifts to replacement rides as I’m trying to sell my Solstice. The ideal situation, financially, would be to not have a replacement ride at all. The Montero and Cylon cover my transportation needs. However, I am concerned that the more I drive Monty in stop-and-go traffic the more likely he is to break down. I’d rather keep him on cargo/dog hauling duty and take him off of daily driver duty. I’d like my next car to seat four or so folks comfortably, fuel economy in the mid-20s to 30s, and be fun to drive, by my standards. I have a list of other minor requirements/nice to haves, such as xenon lights. I want a fast, lightweight, small, maneuverable people and cargo hauler. “Economy compact car” sounds awfully boring, so I call this concept the attack shuttle. It makes me sleep better at night.

Enter the Dodge Caliber SRT-4.

The 2007 Dodge Caliber SRT-4 is a mash-up between a somewhat goofy-looking econobox and a mad scientist. The SRT-4 will feature a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces an estimated 300 horsepower and 260 ft/lb of torque. Dodge claims a 0-60 time of less than six seconds. To put it bluntly, that’s just a hair shy of totally ridiculous for a small hatchback car straight from the factory. Mated with a 6-speed Gertrag manual transmission and a limited-slip differential, this front-wheel drive econobox should be a hoot to drive. With 18″ wheels and brakes borrowed from the 300C, slamming this little guy to a stop will generate a pucker for sho sho.

God damn, that thing is ugly.

There are, of course, concerns. One is interior build quality. My disappointment with the fit and finish of the Solstice has made me twice-shy about buying another American car. Granted, I won’t have the poor convertible top fitment issue on the Caliber, but who knows what kind of gnarly road noise and general interior weaknesses one may have with a Dodge. I guess Stilts can answer that, as he’s the (most satisfied, I think) owner of a Dodge Ram truck.

The other concern is price. The rumored street price on a base Caliber SRT-4 is $26,000. For that price you could grab an all-wheel drive Subaru Impreza WRX. There are other cars in that price range that I’m interested in, but at what point do I consider trading the better fit and finish of a different $26,000+ vehicle for, you know, 300 horsepower? Mmm, 300 horses.

The other candidates in the “attack shuttle” category include the Volkswagen GTi, the aforementioned WRX, and possibly a Mazda 3S. I’m not in a hurry to get a new car right now, so we’ll see what happens with the SRT-4 later this summer when it’s supposed to hit the streets.

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6 Comments on "I think I may have found my attack shuttle."

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  1. duke says:

    Don’t forget that the GTI is now available in 4 door …….

  2. Stomper says:

    So you didn’t mention mpg. With 300 horsies, how’s it do?

  3. drfaulken says:

    Good question. The figures haven’t been released yet. I got 26MPG on average in town with my WRX, so I am guessing higher than that on the Caliber, since the WRX was all wheel drive. Who knows. Edmunds lists the non-turbo Calibers as between 24 and 26MPG.

  4. tried to post this (with links to reviews at Edmunds and Car and Driver) before, got eaten…

    I want a hybrid, next car. I’d rather have a Honda Civic (better handling, at least with the 2006 and up) than a Prius (don’t like the display), but I’d also like a hatchback (no civic hatchback hybrid). Maybe a 2008 model will come out that I like.

    The Captain mentioned some car they’re thinking about, a mini-SUV (like the Forester, but it wasn’t a Subaru) hybrid. All-wheel-drive good…

  5. Bond says:

    I’ll tell you what I told a friend of mine years ago when he was buying a neon…

    “Umm, but it’s a doge.” So, three months later the dealership gave him a full refund becuase the motor blew. The car was bought new.

    I also told a friend once, “Umm, but it’s a pontiac…”

    Still a great looking design though.

  6. drfaulken says:

    HAHAHAHA, touche, buddy.

    (Bond was the one who tried to warn me about my Solstice. I should have listened.)